House Republicans unveiled a $10.6 billion state spending proposal Monday that throws out the governor’s plan for across-the-board pay raises for teachers.
Gov. Janet Napolitano had asked the Legislature for $50 million to boost all teacher salaries and increase minimum pay to $33,000 per year.
But GOP leaders in the House rejected the idea of setting aside money specifically for raises.
Instead, they want to give school districts $20 million to spend as they see fit, which could include a pay hike, said Barrett Marson, a Republican spokesman.
Districts can also use the $80 million for expansion of the full-day kindergarten program for pay increases if they so choose, he added.
“That gives (school districts) up to $100 million to use for teacher pay raises if they want,” Marson said.
Rep. Linda Lopez, D-Tucson, did manage to tack on $8.7 million specifically for teacher salaries. Still, Rep. David Schapira, D-Tempe, complained that the House budget plan shortchanges education.
The $10.6 billion budget proposal by the Republican-led House marks a 2.3 percent increase over the current year. It also calls for more spending than the $10.3 billion budget proposed by Napolitano for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
The entire plan is still up for negotiation as the Senate has yet to release its own budget plan. That version, which should be released later this week, is expected to differ from the House version because of their different bargaining tactics.
Republican leaders in the Senate have been openly working with their Democratic colleagues to come to an agreement. That means their budget plan will likely have stronger support from the governor.
On the other hand, Republican leaders in the House have not worked closely with Democrats. While members of the two parties have met to talk about the budget, House Minority Leader Phil Lopes, D-Tucson, said today that Democratic leaders have not attended any meeting of substance with their GOP counterparts.
Also included in the House proposal was $370 million for new school construction, a $28.5 million corporate income tax cut and about $50 million to build more prison beds.
In addition, the House plan includes $32 million for a new state forensic hospital, $3 million for domestic violence shelter beds and a $58 million pay raise for state employees, including state prison guards and university workers.
The House Appropriations Committee also included a $60 million tax cut in the budget, much of which was designed to help businesses. Corporate income taxes would be reduced by 2.5 percent, as well as tax cuts for businesses investing in new buildings and equipment.
But the plan, which now goes to the full House, also would give individuals a new $2,500-a-year state tax deduction — $5,000 for couples — for money they put aside into qualified college savings plans.
Republican leaders said the focus on business is justified because individuals will receive another 5 percent cut in their own income taxes, the second half of a two-year tax package approved last year.
The proposed Del E. Webb School of Construction at Arizona State University was not in the House budget. The spending plan also doesn’t address how the state intends to pay for additional road and highway construction. Transportation has emerged as a top priority for lawmakers as the state leads the nation in population growth.